NAR: Fair housing should remain a primary HUD mission

WASHINGTON – March 12, 2018 – The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) might change its mission statement to remove what it calls antidiscrimination language. HUD Secretary Ben Carson has led the charge and wants to add in “self-sufficiency,” a major focus of his since taking the helm of HUD.

A draft of the new proposed mission statement: “HUD’s mission is to ensure Americans have access to fair, affordable housing and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, thereby strengthening our communities and nation.”

HUD’s current mission statement: “HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination and transform the way HUD does business.”

The mission statement has not been made final yet, nor have any updates been made to a draft of the statement on HUD’s website. HUD’s current mission statement, which still appears on its website, is much longer and promises “strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all” and to make communities “free from discrimination.”

HUD spokesman Raffi Williams says HUD is considering “modest changes” to its mission statement, just as previous administrations have done.

“You can be sure of one thing – any mission statement for this Department will embody the principle of fairness as a central element of everything that we do,” Williams said in a statement. “HUD has been, is now, and will always be committed to ensuring inclusive housing, free from discrimination for all Americans.”

Carson has been an advocate of “self-sufficiency” in housing and pushed programs that allow low-income Americans who receive federal assistance to better their situations and not get stuck relying on aid. In December, he announced an initiative to add Envision Centers near public housing developments. The centers would help train people in educational advancement, leadership, and health and wellness.

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR), however, wants HUD’s commitment to fair housing issues to remain in the mission statement.

“As Realtors join with our industry partners, allies and consumers throughout 2018 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, we believe that fair housing for all should remain a core part of HUD’s mission,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall.

“The Fair Housing Act provides that HUD will enforce the Act and administer its programs and activities in a manner that affirmatively furthers fair housing,” she says. “When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law, he exclaimed that fair housing for all – all human beings who live in this country – is now a part of the American way of life. Not only is fair housing integral to the ethical commitment of our members, as outlined in the Realtor Code of Ethics, it is critical to our ability to serve our customers, clients and the community. We look forward to continuing our work with HUD to advocate for inclusive sustainable communities free from discrimination.”

Source: “Ben Carson Removes Anti-Discrimination Language from HUD Mission Statement,” HuffPost (March 6, 2018) and “Ben Carson’s Mission Statement for HUD May No Longer Include Anti-Discrimination Language,” The Washington Post (March 7, 2018)